What’s the most important relationship in your life? Of course, it’s subjective. For many, the first person to come to mind will be your spouse. For others, it might be a child, a parent, or a friend. And there’s no right or wrong answer to the question.
But in terms of the one relationship that impacts more than any other relationship, the answer is clear: the most significant relationship you have is with yourself. You are in your company 24/7. You are your own constant companion. Your thoughts, beliefs, actions, attitudes, choices, preferences, habits, and more, impact your life more directly than anyone else’s.
And that’s why your self-image is so important to your personal growth. If you struggle to see your own value, you won’t make growth a priority.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says, “It’s impossible to consistently behave in a manner inconsistent with how we see ourselves. We can do very few things in a positive way if we feel negative about ourselves.” These words may ring true anecdotally for many of us, but experts also agree with his assessment. Nathaniel Branden, a psychiatrist and expert on the subject of self-esteem, says, “No factor is more important in people’s psychological development and motivation than the value judgments they make about themselves. Every aspect of their lives is impacted by the way they see themselves.” If you believe you are worthless, then you won’t add value to yourself.
Personal Growth Powered by Recognizing Our Self-Worth
If you’re mapping our your own personal growth journey, consider these 8 practices to improve and protect your self-image:
1. GUARD YOUR SELF-TALK.
Whether you know it or not, you have a running conversation with yourself all the time. If you speak kindly and encourage yourself, you cultivate a positive view of yourself. But if you criticize instead, you undermine your self-worth.If we want to experience personal growth, we have to change the way we think of ourselves – and to do that, we need to change the way we talk to ourselves. Become your own encourager. Every time you do a good job, don’t just let it pass; recognize it to yourself. When you make a mistake, don’t remind yourself of all your flaws; ask yourself what you can learn from it to improve next time. Maintain a healthy, self-affirming perspective. Every positive thing you can say to yourself will help.
2. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” These words have been attributed to many – but regardless of who spoke them, they ring true. What happens when we compare ourselves to others? Either we see the other person as far ahead of us and we feel discouraged, or we see ourselves as better than them and we become proud. Neither of those is good for us, nor will they help us grow.
Comparing yourself to others is a needless distraction. The only one you should compare yourself to is you. Your mission is to become better today than you were yesterday. You do that by focusing on what you can do today to grow. Do that enough, and if you look back and compare the you of weeks, months, or years ago to the you of today, you should be greatly encouraged by your progress.
3. MOVE BEYOND YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS.
Many people don’t think themselves capable of great things. They see a limit on what they could achieve. But as industrialist Charles Schwab said, “When a man has put a limit on what he will do, he has put a limit on what he can do.” The only thing keeping us from what we believe is impossible is just that – our beliefs.
Author Jack Canfield offers a solution to self-limiting thinking. In his book The Success Principles, he recommends the following four steps to transform limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs:
- Identify a limiting belief you want to change.
- Determine how the belief limits you.
- Decide how you want to be, act, or feel.
- Create a turnaround statement that affirms or gives you permission to be, act, or feel this new way – then, repeat that statement to yourself every day for as long as you must in order to change your thinking.
This is excellent advice because it targets the source of our limitation. Remember, in the end, it isn’t what you are that holds you back; it’s what you think you’re not.
4. ADD VALUE TO OTHERS.
Because people with low self-esteem often see themselves as inadequate or feel like victims (which often starts because they actually have been victimized in their past), they tend to focus on themselves.
If that’s true of you, then you can combat those feelings by serving others and working to add value to them. Making a difference – even a small one – in the lives of other people lifts one’s self-esteem. It’s hard to feel bad about yourself when you’re doing something good for someone else.
5. PRACTICE A SMALL DISCIPLINE IN A SPECIFIC AREA OF YOUR LIFE.
Often, it is because of self-image issues that we have trouble achieving our goals. On some level, we may not believe that we are capable of earning or worthy of having what it is that we want. So it may be surprising to hear that goal achievement is an effective method of improving one’s self-esteem.
If there’s one area of your life or personal growth that seems overwhelming to you – health, work, family, or something else – start working on it a little bit every day. Discipline is a morale builder. Develop your self-esteem and tackle a life goal at the same time, one step at time. Make small steps that will take you in a positive direction, and after time, you will have two reasons to be proud of yourself.
6. CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES.
As you make progress toward a goal, make note of your attitude toward yourself. When you take a step in the right direction, what is your emotional response? What kinds of things do you tell yourself? Do you celebrate your progress or minimize it? Are you telling yourself you didn’t do as much as you should have, or are you reminding yourself that every little bit helps? Celebrate the small so that you will have the perspective to keep going toward something bigger.
7. EMBRACE A POSITIVE VISION FOR YOUR LIFE BASED ON WHAT YOU VALUE.
When Reese Witherspoon won the 2006 Oscar for Best Actress after portraying June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, she remarked, “People used to ask June how she was doing and she would say, ‘I’m just trying to matter.’ I know what she means.” We all want our lives to matter. That’s hard when we don’t feel like we matter.
But whether or not we see the value in ourselves, we all have things that we care about. What do you value? What prompts you to see a positive vision for your life? If you have none, you are likely to be apathetic. But if you consider what you value and try to see what potential you could have, it can inspire you to take positive action. And every positive action you take improves your self-esteem, which in turn helps you take more positive action.
8. PRACTICE THE ONE-WORD STRATEGY.
In his book Aspire, author Kevin Hall proposes a simple approach to personal growth:
“The first thing I do when I’m coaching someone who aspires to stretch, grow, and go higher in life is to have that person select the one word that best describes him or her. Once that person does that, it’s as if he or she has turned a page in a book and highlighted one word. Instead of seeing three hundred different words on the page, the person’s attention, and intention, is focused immediately on that single word, that single gift. What the individual focuses on expands.”
This exercise tells you a lot about how you think about yourself. If you could pick only one word to describe yourself, what would it be? If it’s positive, continue to make choices that represent that word. If it’s not, turn a page and change your word.
A VIP Growth Experience
Did you know that on Saturday, March 9th, the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida, 6 well-known keynote speakers will converge and provide an audience of several thousand a real growth experience? That’s right—John Maxwell, Dr. John Delony, Deion Sanders, Jamie Kern Lima, Jess Ekstrom, and Tim Storey will inspire and instruct. And people who want to learn and grow will leave filled up and ready to take on the next big growth challenge! And the best news yet? There are 3 different VIP experiences that you can choose from… There is the VIP – Entrepreneur ticket, which gives you a special Q&A lunch with Jamie Lynn Kerma and Jess Ekstrom, plus a signed book by John Maxwell. The VIP – Gold ticket means a special Q&A lunch with the one and only Deion Sanders (and a signed book from John Maxwell). And if you thought those packages were amazing, consider the “Prime Package,” an extra special VIP experience that gives you everything in the VIP – Gold ticket PLUS a photo with Deion, and a signed copy of his book… The “Prime Package” also gives you special reserved seating at the Main Day2Grow event and at the Q&A lunch. Too much goodness to pass up. Go here now and secure your spot at Day2Grow.